Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

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Reacher continues to wander America, solving random crimes and helping random people. He has assistance from afar from Major Turner, a military police woman based in DC. As thanks, he heads there to treat her to dinner, but finds that she’s been arrested on charges of espionage. Finding that ridiculous, he digs into the matter and finds a conspiracy involving her and her investigation into a company called Parasource, and ultimately chooses to go up against the law to investigate. However, on returning to DC, he also discovers that apparently, there was a woman who claimed that he she had a daughter with him many years ago, who was now fifteen, and she ultimately gets involved in the mess as well when his adversaries search for a way to get to Reacher.

***

Never Go Back is a very forgettable movie. Its very similar to the first film, but even more low key. It hits a lot of action notes, has a back story related plot with character development, and also a vast conspiracy. However, the action feels quite forced at times, the melodrama was awful, especially everything involving the daughter, and just overall the new characters are not as good. Reacher is a lot more interesting as a lone wolf and this just sort of made a mess of that. This time the film’s conspiracy and mystery were actually interesting and a lot better than it’s predecessor’s, having a good payoff at the end. It’s not enough to salvage the film however.

A pretty dull action flick.

6/10

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Jack Reacher

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After a sniper kills what seems like five random people, James Barr is taken in as the primary suspect. It seems like an open and shut case. The man is a retired sniper from the US military. The people were killed with a type of bullets found in his home. And his finger print is on a quarter found at the scene. He refuses to sign a confession however, and instead asks for Jack Reacher.

Jack Reacher is a ghost. He used to be in the military police, but after he left he became a drifter, with no IDs, licences, official home, or anything that could be used to trace him. They have no idea how to reach him, but he appears immediately. His original intent is to make sure that Barr gets whats coming to him, because they have history, and Reacher promised that if anything like this happened he would make sure that Barr was buried. But Barr’s attorney, Helen Rodin, convinces him to help investigate the case, and they find that the shooting isn’t like what it seems at first glance, and that someone of Reacher’s talents would be necessary in uncovering and dealing with the real perpetrators.

***

Jack Reacher was an incredibly generic action flick. The action was pretty solid, though nothing popping out as exceptional, being action of the mundane variety for the most part with no major surprises or super stunts. Yet it seems that the action is what the movie was intended to rely upon, as the story itself was pretty weak, with the mystery being incredibly shallow, and the entire chase surrounding it feeling random and pointless. Reacher had pretty decent character development, but everyone else pretty much felt hollow, especially when it came to the villains, who the film seemed to try to portray as deep, but in terms of motivations they just felt incredibly awkward and haphazard. There was nothing exceptionally noticeable about the cinematography or soundtrack.

An incredibly generic by the books action film for better or worse.

7/10

Hell or High Water

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Toby is a divorced father with two young boys. His mother leaves the ranch they have to his boys, and furthermore they strike oil on the land, possibly giving them the opportunity to rise out of the poverty that was decimating the region they were in. However, there is still a portion of the loan to be paid on the land, with the bank being prepared and looking forward to foreclosing, and Toby doesn’t have the money to pay the final installment, so it seems quite possible the land and the wealth it could bring his children would escape from their grasp. Hence, he recruits his brother Tanner, who had just gotten out of jail, to help him get the money. They decide they’re going to pay off the loan, and that they’re going to do it with the banks own money, and hence go on a bank robbing spree carefully and intelligently stealing from branches of the bank threatening to foreclose on them, with a pair of sheriffs hot on their trail.

***

Hell or High Water is a film that has pretty flat characters and a pretty simplistic and predictable plot. It does a good job at showing the plight of the collapsing parts of America and how it can push people that normally wouldn’t do bad things to do bad things. There’s a strong sense of style and atmosphere due to a lot of great shots and music. So there is certainly a lot of value in those terms. But beyond that single purpose, there really isn’t much to it.

A film that showcases what its clearly focused on showcasing, the issues in the forgotten parts of America, but beyond that is pretty forgettable.

7/10

The Accountant

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Chris Wolff is The Accountant. He has a form of high functioning autism that makes social interactions and difficult for him as well as causing him major issues when he isn’t able to finish things, but also gives him a brain that is pretty much supernatural in terms of dealing with certain tasks such as those involving analyzing numbers, which makes him a really good accountant. But that’s only half the story. His father was a US Military PSYOP officer, who rather than try to coddle him, took Chris and his brother on a journey, being taught combat and other skills by his connections all over the world. The end result came out to be someone who was not only a genius at accounting work, but also essentially a highly skilled special operations soldier. And hence, he began using both of these skills to do accounting work for those that are too shady for normal accounting firms to even touch, such as those seen as criminal or terrorist organizations by the US. Hence, he is under investigation by the Treasury Department, with a young woman named Medina hot on his trail.

***

This film felt a lot like a hodge podge of a lot of ideas that were never given enough time to really mean anything. There’s a duality between the action side and numbers side in terms of plot drivers, but neither really gets enough time it seems, especially the numbers side seeing as it is called The Accountant, but the action while having a few impressive scenes didn’t feel all that prominent either. There’s also a large number of relationships shown throughout the film, but they are mostly shown in a very weak manner. For example, the attempt at romance, if it can be called that, felt incredibly forced and random from beginning to end. The scene with the brothers at the end also felt rather awkward and not quite built up to enough in terms of the conflict between them. The relationships relating to their father was the one with the most depth, but even that felt like it had an abrupt end. On the other side, the dynamics between Ray and Medina also felt weak. The only one that felt right was the one that wasn’t really the focus at all, the callback to Justine. It felt like it was biting off way too much for it to chew through, and hence none of the relationships that needed time to be fleshed out felt all that solid.

Now despite all of this, Chris is a pretty amazing character. That, and the overall message about autism, though ridiculously exaggerated, definitely got through to some degree. While it was definitely trying to portray him as different, and did so in a number of ways that I don’t expect the audience to understand, there were also a number of scenes where his bluntness and different way of tackling problems felt incredibly refreshing, such as him just completely ignoring the cliche emotional spiel by the villain that generally ends up in an eye rolling pointless conversation. So I feel the core message definitely got through, I just think that the movie they wrapped it in was heavily flawed.

In terms of cinematography, acting, soundtrack, it was solid but not particularly memorable.

A movie with a unique main character and an interesting message that suffers from being overtly stuffed with too many plot elements.

7/10

The Nice Guys

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Holland March is a pretty awful detective and a single father to his daughter Holly. Jackson Healy is an enforcer that doesn’t really care all that much for ethics or the law. Their paths cross when March is sent to find the whereabouts of Amelia Kutner, and Healy is hired to prevent him from finding her. Healy breaks March’s arm and gets him off the case, but is then assaulted in his apartment by two other thugs also looking for Amelia. He fights them off, but determines that the only way he can make sure they don’t come after him, is if he gets to the bottom of this. And hence, he personally rehires March to take up the case and help him find Amelia. Hence, Healy, March, and surprisingly Holly end up on a wild goose chase that turns out to be a hell of a lot bigger than they expected.

***

The film is set in 1977 LA, and one of the core unique aspects of the film is the attempt at trying to convey the visual style and flair of the area during the period in a somewhat exaggerated way. It does quite well in this regard, and I certainly appreciated the style, eye candy, and soundtrack, all of which contributed well to the atmosphere. The plot itself is pretty generic, with a couple of guys that would generally be considered bad people coming together and through necessity doing something good. The three main characters, Healy, March, and Holly, while seemingly not that great at first, by the end all seem like really cool characters. None of them really go through much character development beyond coming to trust each other more and becoming fine with each others faults. Healy and March aren’t incredibly unique characters overall either, though Holly certainly is, but while not especially unique from an overarching point of view there are a lot of small things that in context make them quite interesting. The same applies to some of the other characters as well, wherein they seem pretty archetypal but that in and of itself makes them interesting, such as Jon Boy who is incredibly professional, and Amelia herself who is the epitome of a moronic hippy. There are a lot of great action scenes, a lot of great comedic scenes, and a lot of great scenes that are both of those, so even though the plot moves pretty slowly, the film never seems to be dragging. And ultimately it comes to a conclusion that you would expect to be somewhat unsatisfying all things considered, but all in all seems like a solid ending in part because the overarching plot wasn’t that important anyway.

A film that doesn’t have much depth in terms of plot, but has a great trio of main characters and a lot of great humor and action to keep it entertaining.

8/10

I liked the setup for the sequel and sincerely hope we get one, but based on revenue it doesn’t seem to be in the cards. Pity.

Spectre

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The world is changing, and many doubt that programs such as the 00 program are necessary. One such person is Max Denbigh, who Bond dubs C, of the Joint Intelligence Service who wants to create a new surveillance system, 9 eyes, that would use cutting edge technology to have eyes on everything using the internet, and would thus make things like agents obsolete. This is crucial, because Max is currently in a power struggle with M, with the fate of the future of Britain’s intelligence in the balance. Bond certainly doesn’t make the case for M however, going on a secret off the books mission that the previous M sent him on before her death, and causing all sorts of mishaps. This turns out to be the last straw, and results in Max coming out victorious in the power struggle, resulting in the termination of the 00 program. However, Bond isn’t quite ready to stop just yet. On his last mission, he finds a ring with a black octopus, and stumbles upon a major conspiracy involving events spanning his entire life and intelligence career as well as the direction Britain’s intelligence services seem to be headed in. Hence, with or without any assistance, Bond sets off to unravel this conspiracy, and find the truth behind Spectre.

***

There were a number of really good things in this film. The opening was fantastic, both visually and in terms of audio, I would even say the best of all the Craig films. The soundtrack is also excellent. It also had a number of great action scenes with some great explosion sequences. The romantic scenes were also quite nice. A lot of smaller scenes were also done really well, such as the one with C dying by falling down the great building he built onto the logo itself, or bond walking away at the end, with the villain completely and utterly defeated. In terms of the individual scenes the movie was overall quite good. However, the summation of parts felt somewhat lacking. The overall plot was somewhat lack luster, primarily because it seemed to be tying things together in such a way that the backstory felt forced, though that is in part because the overall plots so far have been been pretty lackluster and forgettable already in my opinion. So all the references to previous films don’t hit as well as they could, and the attempt at being some spectacular finish that wraps up everything didn’t really work at all, but rather was an unnecessary distraction.  Now that is not to say it isn’t a good ending for the series, because the ending as stated is quite good and wraps things up very well, and overall is a satisfying conclusion to the Craig’s Bond series.

A film that has a lot of fantastic scenes that ends the series well, but with a plot that’s more of a miss than a hit.

8/10

Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life

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Rafe Khatchadorian, who has enough problems, seeing as his mom has a sleazy boyfriend and he has an annoying sister, is transferring to a school with a principal, Ken Dwight, that’s overtly strict and obsessed with test scores. To get through this time, as he has done through hard times before, he sticks to his art, drawing an extensive series of sketches in a massive sketchbook. However, one day, an unflattering comic of the principal comes to the principals attention, resulting in his entire sketchbook being disposed of in acid. Rafe decides that he needs to get even, and seeing as how Dwight got rid of his book, Rafe decides to get rid of Dwight’s book, his rule book, putting a plan in motion to break every rule in the book.

***

For the most part this film is very lacking. The kids are somewhat interesting, but the plot is somewhat haphazard and random, with characters having completely unexpected and undeveloped changes of heart. With one major exception nothing really connects. Now, it is quite funny, as the pranks are ridiculous. For example, the post it notes were amazing, as were the others. Some other humor didn’t really connect with me, like the description of VHS tapes, which I suppose I’m too old for. There’s also an issue in that most of the kids aren’t that great actors, which makes sense as they’re kids I suppose, but some lines are delivered really awkwardly. On the other hand, the comic scenes were pretty unique and very well done. Now the one plot point that really connected to me, and hence felt like the core despite not being what the film spent most of its time developing was everything related to Leo. I did not expect that at all, in part due to context. But once its revealed, everything makes sense. And it makes the scenes with the letter and and the ending have a very strong emotional impact despite the rest of the film having very little. Based just on how it sounds, the twist actually sounds really dumb, but I really liked it.

A film that has some issues in terms of quality but has a few things that it manages to do well.

7/10

GRAKTUNG!